Cats may seem aloof, but evidence suggests that cats do get lonely, and of course, they need us to provide them with all the things they need to thrive. Here, our Liberty Lake vets explain how long you can leave a cat alone, and give tips for keeping your cat safe and content while you are away.
The Myth of the Independent Cat
Cat parents know that our feline friends are much more sociable than their reputation might have us believe.
Do cats, on the other hand, get lonely? Our feline companions, like people, have a wide range of personalities. While some cats are consistently aloof and prefer their own company, others cheerfully greet their owners at the door when they return home from work and then follow them around the house, meowing. So, based solely on their personalities, some cats will likely adjust better to time alone than others, but all cats need their people, some more than others.
Your Cat's Age Matters When Leaving Them Alone
Cats who are very old or very young are more vulnerable and require more attention than cats who are in their middle years. Cats with health issues have the same problem. As a result, extra caution should be exercised when leaving cats with health issues, kittens, or senior cats alone.
Young Cats & Kittens
Kittens need to be fed three or four times a day until they reach the age of six months. When young cats are left alone, they are prone to mischief. Kittens under the age of four months should not be left alone for more than four hours at a time. If you know your cat will need to get used to being alone because of your lifestyle, start training your kitten by gradually increasing the amount of time you are gone. Consult your veterinarian for advice on how to best acclimate your kitten to being left alone at home.
If you need to be away for an extended period of time after your kitten has reached the age of six months, it may be best to have a friend or family member take your cat to their home to care for them. If that's not possible, have someone come by once or twice a day to check on your young cat to make sure they're safe, eating well, and getting enough social interaction to keep them from becoming bored.
Pet boarding is the ideal solution if you have a young cat and need to be away from home for more than 2-4 hours. Many boarding facilities provide excellent care for cats of all ages, including lots of love and attention.
Senior Cats & Cats With Health Issues
Older cats can be very sensitive to routines, which means that changes to their normal day can be stressful for them to handle. Stress can lead to an increased risk of health conditions and tummy issues. It's also common for senior cats to require extra feedings or medication throughout the day. For these reasons, it may not be a good idea to leave your senior cat alone overnight. Many pet boarding facilities provide round-the-clock care for animals in need of a little extra TLC while their owners are away, making pet boarding an ideal option for senior or unwell cats. If your cat must stay home alone, have someone visit your house twice a day to check on your senior cat.
Your vet knows your senior cat best, speak to your vet about how long they believe your cat can safely be left alone.
In some cases, leaving your healthy adult cat alone for 24 to 48 hours may be acceptable. Of course, this will depend on a variety of factors, including your cat's personality, living conditions, and whether or not they are accustomed to being alone. If you're going to leave your cat alone for a day or two, make sure the temperature in your home isn't too hot or cold, that there's enough (dry) food for your cat to eat while you're gone, and that there's plenty of clean drinking water! It's also a good idea to double-check that the litter box is clean before leaving.
Taking your cat to a reputable pet boarding facility in your area can help prevent your cat from becoming lonely or mischievous. Pet boarding allows you to leave the house knowing that your cat will be safe and well cared for while you are gone.
Tips for Leaving Your Cat When You Need to be Away
If you are planning to be away from home, here are a few tips to help ensure that your cat stays safe while you're gone.
- Speak to your vet to find out if they have any concerns about your cat being left alone. Your vet knows your cat's health concerns and is in the best position to give you advice on your cat's wellbeing.
- We strongly recommend that you have someone check on your kitty once or twice a day while you are gone, to ensure that your kitty is safe and has enough food and water for the duration of your absence.
- Check the weather and be sure that your thermostat is set so that your home will remain at a comfortable temperature while you're away.
- Provide your cat with enough food for the duration of your time away. You may want to invest in an automated pet feeder to ration the food and keep it fresher.
- Make sure your cat has plenty of fresh water in a sturdy bowl that won't spill. Water fountains for cats are available at pet stores. While you're away, these handy devices can help keep your cat's water fresh and clean.
- If your cat is particularly fussy about their litter box you may want to leave 2 fresh clean boxes of litter for them.
- Consider leaving a radio or tv on so that your cat hears voices while you are away. It may help to relieve your cat's boredom.
- Take your cat to a local pet boarding facility. Cat boarding facilities can offer your kitty a clean and bright place to stay where they will be well cared for, and provided with plenty of human interaction.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.